The Revelation of Hermes

by Dennis William Hauck

 

HermesHermes Trismegistus describes breaking away from material reality and traveling along the hidden cosmic axis in The Divine Pymander (Mind of the Sovereignty), part of the Corpus Hermeticum. While meditating, Hermes enters an altered state of consciousness. “My thought was raised to a great height,” he explains, “yet my bodily senses had been put under restraint as in sleep, though not such sleep as that of men weighed down by fullness of food or bodily weariness.” Thus freed from attachment to his bodily senses, his mind begins to travel along the spiritual axis of reality.

“Forthwith all things changed in aspect before me and were opened out in a moment. And I beheld a boundless view: all was changed into light, a mild and joyous light; and I marveled when I saw it. And in a little while, there came to be in one part a downward-tending darkness, terrible and grim. And thereafter I saw the darkness changing into a watery substance, which was unspeakably tossed about. Coiling in sinuous folds, it gave forth smoke as from fire; and I heard it making an indescribable sound of lamentation, for there was sent forth from it an inarticulate cry. But from the light there came forth a holy Speech, which took its stand upon the watery substance, and methought this Word was the voice of the light. And the Divine Mind spoke for me to hear:

‘That light is I, even the One Mind, the first God, who was before the watery substance which appeared out of darkness, and the Word which came forth from the light is son of God. Learn my meaning by looking at what you yourself have in you, for in you too, the Word is son, and Mind the father of the Word. They are not separate one from the other, for life is the union of Word and Mind. Now fix your thought upon the light and learn to know it.’

“I saw in my mind that the light consisted of innumerable powers and had come to be an ordered world, but a world without the bounds of material existence. This I perceived in thought, seeing it by reason of the words which the Divine Mind had spoken to me. And when I was amazed, he spoke again to me: ‘You have seen in your mind the archetypal form, which is prior to the beginning of things and is limitless.’”

Hermes strains to comprehend the meaning of these words, and wonders how the archetypal form can determine physical reality. “But tell me,” he asks. “Whence did the elements of nature come into being?” “They issued from God’s Purpose,” comes the answer, “which beheld that beauteous world and copied it. The watery substance, the One Thing, having received the Word, was fashioned into an ordered world, the elements being separated out from it. And from the elements came forth the brood of living creatures. And the One Mind, that Mind of Life and Light, being male and female both, gave birth to another Mind, which was a maker of things; and this made out of the elements seven planets who encompass with their orbits the world perceived by sense; and their administration is called Destiny.”

“And forthwith,” Hermes continues, “the Word of God leapt up from the downward-tending elements of nature to the pure body of the highest sphere which had already existed and united with Mind the Maker, for the Word was of one substance with that mind too. And the downward-tending elements of nature were left devoid of reason, so as to be mere matter.”

The astonishing implication of this divine message is that if you can reach the One Mind, you can change reality by transforming the One Thing, the precursor of all physical manifestation. Temporarily split off from the One Mind, the consciousness embodied in “Mind the Maker” participates in the fashioning of reality as we know it. This is the same idea as the demiurge or divine craftsman expressed in some religions. On the microcosmic scale, Mind the Maker is nothing less than the mind of man, and anyone who is centered and balanced along the cosmic axis can be in touch with the powers of both the Above and the Below.

Hermes is eager to learn more, and the Divine Mind continues to explain the details of creation, showing him all the levels existence from the basic Four Elements of matter fashioned out of the One Thing to the Eight Heavenly Spheres contained within the One Mind itself. Next, the Divine Mind reveals that man himself is a copy of the universe and contains within himself all the same levels, all the same powers of light and darkness that make up the fabric of the Above and the Below.

“And I inscribed in my memory the benefaction of the Divine Mind,” says Hermes upon leaving his altered consciousness, “and I was exceedingly glad, for I was full with that for which I craved. My bodily sleep had come to be sober wakefulness of soul; and the closing of my eyes, true vision; and my silence, pregnant with good; and my barrenness of speech, a brood of holy thoughts. Becoming God-inspired, I attained the abode of Truth.”

People throughout the ages have had similar encounters in the rarefied realm of the Above and Below. Jacob’s vision of the ladder, described in Genesis, is one example. After falling asleep in a field with his head resting on a rock, Jacob has a vision of a splendid ladder reaching into the heavens. Using the ladder, the angels (archetypal powers) are able to traverse heaven and earth. That ladder would become an oft-used image in the art of the alchemists referring to the Seven Steps of Transformation contained in the Emerald Tablet.

The twelfth-century Christian mystic Hildegard of Bingen had many visions similar to that of Hermes in which the One Mind merged with and organized the dark chaos of the One Thing below, and she felt that God inscribed the entire divine deed on the human form. For Dominican cleric Meister Eckhart, created matter was an amalgam made up of soul and thought. “God is everywhere and is everywhere complete,” he wrote. “God is in the innermost part of each and every thing.” Eckhart described the One Thing as something separate from God, a “simple ground and still desert” without any distinctions, out of which all things were created.

A modern example of traveling in this spiritual realm is that of a 28-year-old mathematics professor. After being lifted to great heights during an out-of-body experience, he reported: “All at once, without any further change, my eyes were opened. Above and in front, yet in me, of me, and around, was the Glory of the Archetypal Light. Nothing can be more truly light, since that Light makes all other light to be light; nor is it a flat material light but a creative light of life itself, streaming forth in love and understanding, and forming all other lives out of its substance. Far below, as things can be seen at these times without turning away, there appeared something like the surface of earth. But this was only for a moment, to make clear the immense height to which my soul had been raised, and her nearness to the sun.”

The alchemists, whose craft was both spiritual and material in nature, actually developed step-by-step procedures for working in this rarefied realm and learning to alter reality. Over the centuries, they discovered ways of accessing the One Mind and transmuting the physical and spiritual elements through the One Thing. These transcendental operations are presented in the second part of this book. However, before we can understand and apply the powers of the Above and Below in our own lives, we have to try to comprehend the true nature of the One Thing through which physical, psychological, and spiritual reality is transformed. 

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© Dennis William Hauck